App store governance: implications, limitations, and regulatory responses
28 Pages Posted: 5 May 2022
Date Written: April 29, 2022
Events such as the riot at the United States Capitol and tightening constraints on the Russian public sphere have highlighted the socio-political significance of app store governance. This is dominated by Apple and Google as operators of the two largest smartphone platforms. In this article, we analyse two case studies: the removals from app stores in 2021 of the fringe American social media app Parler and of the Russian opposition app Smart Voting. On the basis of this analysis, we identify three critical limitations for app store governance at present: Apple’s and Google’s dominance, the substantive opacity of their respective app store guidelines, and the procedural arbitrariness with which these guidelines are applied to specific cases. We then assess the potential efficacy of legislative proposals in the EU and US to intervene in this domain and conclude by offering some recommendations supporting more efficacious and socially responsible app store governance.
Keywords: Apple, apps, app stores, app store governance, digital governance, Google, platform governance, public sphere, stack governance
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